You’d think that sales reps would be going bonkers for sales enablement.
After all, the whole point of sales enablement is to optimize your company’s sales process and make sure every calorie your reps spend working moves deals forward. Sales enablement teams spend their days trying to make it easier for sales reps to do their jobs.
So why is it so hard for companies to drive adoption of their sales enablement initiatives? Why aren’t reps the first ones to jump on board with tools and policy changes that help them sell more effectively?
It’s because they rarely feel enough pain to move away from the status quo.
Before they consider changing their approach, sales reps and managers have to be persuaded that the solutions their peers in sales enablement are offering will address their needs effectively. Sales will argue that there’s no reason for them to invest time learning something new if their current approach gets the job done.
Sound familiar? That’s because driving adoption of sales enablement is really the same as solution selling.
Instead of bringing in new prospects and moving opportunities down the funnel, the sales operations team (or whoever is responsible for sales enablement) has to identify a specific need the sales team has, present a solution, and demonstrate that the solution will in fact help them to do their jobs more effectively.
These are the three steps that sales enablement should use to “sell” their services to the rest of the sales team.
1. Use Data to Identify Pain
One major difference between “selling” sales enablement and selling in the traditional sense is that it’s much easier to identify pain points within your own company. You have (or should have) access to all kinds of data from your sales process.
That data provides an objective roadmap that shows exactly where the reps and managers in your company are in need of enablement — even if they don’t know it yet.
The first step towards changing behavior is self-awareness. Data provides an objective view of what behavior needs to be changed and improved. It’s a mirror that the sales ops team can hold up to the sales team, and prove that changes need to be made.
For example, you may run an analysis and notice that all of your reps have several deals push out each month. You recognize that the reason for this push is that reps spend too much of their time building and customizing RFPs, so you move to automate that process.
The individuals on your sales team may have been perfectly content to build proposals by hand — after all, it’s part of what they’ve always done, and they’ve had a lot of success doing it.
To change their behavior, you have to reveal the pain point you’ve identified by showing them hard data that proves that they are hurting themselves by using their old methods, and will benefit from the new system in the long run.
2. Set Expectations
Nothing cripples sales enablement efforts more completely than a project that fails to deliver value. It’s the same principle as overselling to a prospect. Anytime reps over-promise and then fail to deliver, they undermine their credibility, and prospects begin to think twice anytime they try to move the deal forward.
This is a serious problem for sales enablement as well, because sales reps have very high expectations — they are always looking for the silver bullet that helps them win more deals in less time.
Reps will be skeptical of anything that doesn’t immediately deliver the value they expect to get out of it, so when they ask for a silver bullet… Don’t try to give it to them.
Just as sales reps have to manage their prospects’ behavior by setting realistic expectations and delivering on their promises, sales operations has to identify incremental goals that they can meet to gradually improve sales performance.
Swinging for the fences on sales enablement projects leads to a lack of trust and ultimately completely undermines your sales enablement efforts. Small ball is the way to go when it comes to sales enablement.
3. Develop Relationships
The surest way to torpedo sales enablement is to try to shove it down your sales team’s throat. No one likes being told what to do, especially sales reps. In fact, it’s their job to act as managers who guide the behavior of others — they will actively sabotage projects that they are forced into.
The key to bridge the gap between sales ops and sales reps is to develop clear lines of communication with sales reps, leverage data to demonstrate the impact of sales enablement initiatives, and establish trust by responding to requests from the sales team.
Successful sales reps continue to foster relationships with customers long after the point that the sale is complete. The same rule applies to sales operations and sales enablement.
Your customers, whether they are the people you sell to or the people you enable, will become disillusioned with your service if they feel that they are being ignored. Be responsive, show that you have their best interests in mind, and continue to address their needs even after you feel your job is complete.
Next time that your sales team needs a boost, think hard about your approach to sales enablement. You work with a group of sales experts — why not play their own game, and use time-tested sales techniques to promote sales enablement and help them help themselves?